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We read Michael Cunningham’s “Specimen Days” with the author

The next (and final) book in our 2022 series is “Specimen Days” (2005) by Michael Cunningham. Told in three parts, it begins with the story of Lucas, a 12-year-old boy who tends to recite Walt Whitman and who, after starting to work in the same factory machine that killed his older brother, comes to believe that his lost brother lives inside his whirring gears. Over a century later, in post-9/11 New York, a forensic psychologist with a tragic past must find a group of child terrorists, including a boy named Luke, behind a wave of suicide bombings. The third story is set in a dystopian future in which an android and a lizard-like alien team up with another Luke. Despite the leaps in time and genre, all sections deal, in Whitman fashion, with love and desire, America, transcendence, and life itself.

Start reading today, then RSVP for our Dec. 8 chat with Cunningham, novelist Neel Mukherjee, and Kate Guadagnino, a T.


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